Weblog

2013 November

US Senators seek to make college textbooks affordable and open

Jane Park, November 15th, 2013

A Human Timeline of Open Education
Opensourceway / CC BY-SA

United States Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Al Franken of Minnesota have introduced legislation called the Affordable College Textbook Act that seeks to make college textbooks affordable and openly available under the Creative Commons Attribution license. According to Durbin’s press release, Bill S.1704 does 5 things:

  • Creates a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the highest savings for students;
  • Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be freely and easily accessible to the public [via CC BY];
  • Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students;
  • Improves existing requirements for publishers to make all textbooks and other educational materials available for sale individually rather than as a bundle; and
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress by 2017 with an update on the price trends of college textbooks.

You can read the full text of Bill S.1704 here. In addition to highlighting the rising cost of textbooks, Bill S.1704 defines the following terms:

(3) OPEN EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE.—The term ‘‘open educational resource’’ means an educational resource that is licensed under an open license and made freely available online to the public.

(4) OPEN LICENSE.—The term ‘‘open license’’ means a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable copyright license granting the public permission to access, reproduce, publicly perform, publicly display, adapt, distribute, and otherwise use the work and adaptations of the work for any purpose, conditioned only on the requirement that attribution be given to authors as designated.

(5) OPEN TEXTBOOK.—The term ‘‘open textbook’’ means an open educational resource or set of open educational resources that either is a textbook or can be used in place of a textbook for a postsecondary course at an institution of higher education.

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) note several existing open textbook programs that have proved successful in lowering costs for students, including the University of Minnesota’s online catalog of open textbooks which has so far saved students $100,000; Tidewater Community College’s degree program where each course uses open textbooks lowering costs to zero for students; and Washington State’s Open Course Library project for its 81 largest enrollment courses that has saved students $5.4 million to date.

In addition to cost savings, SPARC highlights Bill S.1704’s potential impacts of high quality and innovation:

  • High quality materials. Open educational resources developed through the grants will also be available for all other colleges, faculty and students across the country to freely use.
  • Supporting innovation. At a time where new models to support open educational resources are rapidly emerging, this bill would help foster innovation and development of best practices that can be shared with other institutions.

For more info, see:

You can take action to support Bill S.1704 here and use Twitter hashtag #oerusa to share the news!

Comments Off

Creative Commons in London: Open Ed Timeline and Mozfest

Jane Park, November 12th, 2013

A few weeks ago, CC co-hosted an open education meetup in London with P2PU, the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), and FLOSS Manuals Foundation. We also led or participated in sessions and tracks on open science, makes for cultural archives, collaborations across the open space, and open education data at the Mozilla Festival immediately following the meetup. Several interesting projects have arisen from both the meetup and sessions, so we thought it worthwhile to mention here in case others would like to get involved.

Hit the Road Map: A Human Timeline of the Open Education Space

A Human Timeline of Open Education
A Human Timeline of Open Education / CC BY

In addition to networking and sharing our common open education interests, participants of the Open Ed Meetup at the William Goodenough house collectively built a timeline of events that they felt marked important (and personal) milestones in the open education space, from the beginning of the Open University in 1969 to Lessig’s countersuit against Liberation Music this year. The timeline was a great collaborative exercise for the group, and one that we hope is only beginning. As Marieke from the OKFN writes in her post,

“…the plan is to digitise what we have by moving all the ideas in to Google Docs and then create a TimeMapper of them. This may form part of the Open Education handbook. At that point we will be able to share the document with you so you can add more information, correct the date and add in your own ideas. We may even try to run more open education timeline events.”

In fact, CC affiliates in Europe will be co-hosting the second Open Education Handbook booksprint with the OKFN and Wikimedia in Berlin as a result!

To see photos from the meetup, see both Creative Common’s and OKFN’s Flickr streams. Contribute to the timeline here.

Mozilla Festival

Getting hands-on with tools on the web for Open Science

by Billy Meinke

old gauges from automobiles
Gauges / Samuel Z. / CC BY

In another team-up with the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN), we ran a session investigating tools on the web that help make science more open. Hinging on the theme of alternative ways to measure (altmetrics) scholarly impact, collaborators joined us in the session and got hands-on with tools that we can use to see how publications and other research outputs are talked about and shared on the web. To help build content for lessons linked to the Open Science course in the School of Open, participants tested a handful of free tools to see what they were able to measure, how usable the tools were, and considered ways to share this with others who aren’t familiar with altmetrics. We will be organizing the content over the next few weeks, and offering the altmetrics lesson as a standalone exercise once it’s complete. For more information about how the session went, see this blog post.

Collaborations across the Open Space

Collaborations Across the Open Space
Mozfest: Collaborations Across the Open Space / CC BY

We also participated in a session with Wikimedia, OKFN, and other orgs to talk about how we could better collaborate and share news among our organizations so we don’t keep reinventing the wheel. I won’t go into detail here, as the wiki session writeup does it much better, and has continued to grow since the festival. For example, something as simple as a blog aggregator for all “open” related news would help those working in this space tremendously. To join our efforts, head over to the wiki and add your thoughts and be notified of follow-up meetings.

Digital Self Preservation Toolkit

mozfest candy
Seeking a lawyer… / CC BY

One neat thing to come out of this year’s Mozfest was the beginnings of a Digital Self Preservation Toolkit exploring the idea of what happens to your body of creative, educational, or scientific work when you die. Some questions we asked and discussed were: In your country, what happens to your work when you die? What steps can you take to ensure its posterity? How would you want it shared and who would you want to own it? Our initial aim was to develop a set of tools and tips to help people think through how they might want to release their work upon death, building on an idea that the Question Copyright folks had last year around a free culture trust. Skirting the technical and legal issues for the time being, we came up with a prototype IP donor badge that creators might use to signify their intent, a concept form that they would fill out, and a mock-up website where such a toolkit might reside. We are now continuing our efforts in collaboration with folks from numerous organizations interested in the same questions, and you can join us to move the project forward at the Free Culture Trust wiki.

OER Research Hub’s Open Education Data Detective

Lastly, we’d like to highlight our collaboration with the OER Research Hub, who held a “scrum” on visualizing open education data called the Open Ed Data Detective. Participants experimented with open education data that the OER Research Hub made available, including data on School of Open courses.

Comments Off

Minister of culture invests in an open France

Elliot Harmon, November 8th, 2013

French Minister for Culture and Communication Aurélie Filippetti announcing the partnership between the ministry and Open Knowledge Foundation France
Aurélie Filippetti / Open Knowledge Foundation / CC BY

French minister of culture and communications Aurélie Filippetti launched a set of initiatives yesterday designed to promote a more creative, more open France. The impressive announcement covers a lot of measures, including an open data policy for cultural data, the launch of a new workspace designed to stimulate cultural innovation, and much more. But of particular interest to us are the new partnerships Filipetti announced with the Open Knowledge Foundation and Creative Commons France.

The ministry of culture and communication will work with CC France to educate students, cultural creators, and society in general on understanding and using Creative Commons licenses. According to the announcement, “These tools align with intellectual property law and fit perfectly within the minister’s policy of digital inclusion as a part of her great national project for arts and cultural education.”*

Meanwhile, the ministry will also work with the Open Knowledge Foundation France to map the French public domain, making it easier for anyone to discern whether a work is in the public domain or not. This partnership is the next step in OKFN’s Public Domain Calculators project, and it’s great news for anyone who cares about a vibrant, living public domain.

We applaud Minister Fillipetti and congratulate both CC France and OKFN France on this exciting partnership.

*Rough translation from the French announcement.

Comments Off

Guest Post: Design Hackathon held in Buenos Aires to kick off the CC Toolkits Project

Billy Meinke, November 6th, 2013

This is a guest post written by Gino Cingolani, a member on the design team for the CC Toolkit project. We’re making progress with the project, and wanted to share about a regional activity that helped launch the development of the CC Toolkits. Thanks to Gino, Teresa Sempere Garcia, and Pablo Corbalan for leading the organization of this event!


CC Toolkits Design Hackathon Announcement Flyer


Gino Cingolani / CC BY 3.0

This past August’s celebration of the Creative Commons Global Summit in Buenos Aires impacted the free culture movement of this city. Only one month after the Summit, the first CC Argentina Hackathon was held with around 25 volunteers giving up their weekend to help. On a Sunday in October, programmers, translators, graphic designers, illustrators and people curious or interested in CC from all the country gathered around to work on the creation of template for the CC toolkits project.

During the event, we strategized content and drafted designs that would help spread the word and implement the CC licenses in cultural and scientific environments. The toolkits will exist in multiple formats (web, print) and will live online, each kit containing open content created by CC’s global community; the template includes video, narrative and fact sheet documents about CC licenses, and a set of cards with sentences for starting discussions around issues of copyright & free licensing. Each kit will also feature case studies and success stories of people that have already implemented CC licenses.

The CC Toolkits global initiative was initially presented at the Global Summit by a team made up of Billy Meinke and Teresa Sempere, describing the overall goal for the toolkits to help explain how CC licenses can be used in places like education, government agencies, culture and science. From that moment on, the initiative passed on to different working groups that took care of making the content, translating it, and present in the different formats mentioned.

CCToolkits Hackathon
“CCToolkits Hackathon” / Gino Cingolani / CC BY-NC-SA

The hackathon, organised by a working group established during the summit, was held at the Cultural Center Tierra Violeta in downtown Buenos Aires. Alongside hacking to build the toolkits, we also had the chance to work with a DIY book scanner, take part in a Wikipedia editathon, involving various members of the area’s local DIY/Open Hardware community. The event had the support of Wikimedia Argentina & CC Argentina and we hope it will be only the first of many more similar events to come, that have the aim of sharing open principles like those of Creative Commons to more local communities of creators and artists.

For more information about the CC Toolkits project and how to get involved, see wiki.creativecommons.org/Toolkits.

Comments Off

University of Mississippi to incorporate School of Open’s Wikipedia course

Jane Park, November 6th, 2013

This is a guest post by Pete Forsyth, organizer of the School of Open’s “Writing Wikipedia Articles: The Basics & Beyond” course and member of WikiProject Open.

OleMissLogo.svg

The University of Mississippi’s Spring 2014 course “Open Educational Resources and Practices” will include the module “Writing Wikipedia Articles” (aka WIKISOO), which I developed and taught through the School of Open; as well as “Open Content Licensing for Educators,” developed and taught by Wayne Mackintosh as part of the OER university consortium. The new graduate level course (Edhe 670), taught by Dr. Robert Cummings, will invite learners from around the world to take these two course modules alongside graduate students, free of charge. This is the first time a university has adopted a School of Open course as part of a formal university course.

In the new course, both online learners and University of Mississippi students will actively participate in open educational practices, even as they learn the theory and history of open education and related concepts. Online learners will enjoy university-level instruction free of charge and without the need to enroll in a degree program.

Noting the advantages of this first-of-its-kind course, Associate Professor Robert Cummings said,

“University of Mississippi graduate students in the School of Education will prepare for their careers with this unique opportunity to engage the emerging global field of Open Educational Resources. UM students will not only learn about OER, its origins, and its role in the classrooms of the future, but they will have the opportunity to work with developers and theorists—both as fellow students and emerging practitioners—in a synchronous, global classroom of enrolled students and un-enrolled learners.”

The course’s subject matter should be of particular benefit to those interested in the future of education. Educators are embracing openness in education by using the increasingly interactive and ubiquitous Internet. In doing so, they aim to lower financial costs, reduce legal complexities, and otherwise eliminate barriers for learners worldwide.

“Open education signals a return to the core values of the academy, namely, to share knowledge freely,” said OERu founder Wayne Mackintosh, who teaches the “Open Content Licensing for Educators” module. “Working together we achieve far more than working alone. This course is an exemplar of open collaboration widening learning opportunities for all.”

The ability to engage and collaborate online and in real time, across geographical borders, presents opportunities that didn’t exist a few years ago. Wikipedia in particular has enabled hundreds of thousands of people around the world to connect in meaningful ways, united by a shared passion for freely sharing knowledge. As part of the team that created the Wikipedia Education Program, Dr. Cummings, Dr. Mackintosh, and I have long worked to bring Wikipedia’s community and the world of formal education closer, so that each may learn from the experience of the other.

Pete_Forsyth_demonstrating_Wikipedia_use_by_Ellis_Christopher
…demonstrating Wikipedia use / Ellis Christopher / CC BY

Wikipedia is important not only as a publication, but also as a vibrant learning community, and as a collection of highly effective collaborative processes. Wikipedia offers many valuable case studies in effective online collaboration, both in connection with and independent of formal academic study. I’m looking forward to this opportunity to work with UM students alongside learners around the world.

If you would like to take one or both of the open modules, sign up to receive updates today!

1 Comment »

OERu Launches Worldwide

Paul Stacey, November 4th, 2013

Providing free learning with pathways to formal credit, the OERu officially launched on Friday November 1, 2013 at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops British Columbia. “In basing your learning and teaching on OER, you have an excellent opportunity to treat the minds of your students primarily as fires to be set alight rather than as vessels to be filled with the knowledge of just one teacher,” said Sir John Daniel, former UNESCO Assistant Director General of Education and open learning visionary.

OERu web site

Coordinated by the Open Education Resource Foundation, headquartered in New Zealand, the OERu is an independent, not-for-profit network that offers free online university courses for students worldwide using open educational resources (OER). As a designated project of the UNESCO-COL OER Chair network and with over thirty-two partners from five continents, the OERu is using OER to provide more affordable ways for learners to gain academic credit towards qualifications from recognized, accredited institutions.

“The OERu makes affordable education accessible to everyone,” said Open Education Resource Foundation Director Dr. Wayne Mackintosh. “All you need is an internet connection and you can study independently from home, with access to world-class courses from recognized institutions around the world. It’s about sharing knowledge and the sustainability of education.”

Research from the Commonwealth of Learning and UNESCO predicts that an additional one hundred million post-secondary learners will be entering into the tertiary education system over the next fifteen years. “The key challenge we are trying to address is how to provide spaces for the additional one hundred million students – that’s the equivalent of building four sizeable universities with roughly 30,000 students each, every week for the next 15 years,” said Mackintosh. The OERu aims to provide students excluded from the formal education sector with learning pathways to credible credentials.

Coming at a time of dramatically rising higher education cost and high youth unemployment, the OERu provides a parallel learning universe based solely on OER, quality assurance, and institutional accreditation. The OERu sees OER as a key means of expanding and sustaining higher education and aims to see OER and open education practices integrated into every institution in the world.

The distinctively open aspects of the OERu, including its use of open-source software, open peer review, open public input, open file formats and open educational resources are key differentiators from MOOCs. Another major difference is the OERu’s commitment to providing students with the option of getting formal credit for their study for a small fee.

“The OERu will reduce the cost of higher education dramatically,” says Sir John Daniel. “I believe that radical innovations in higher education must be accompanied by particularly robust frameworks of accreditation and credentialing in order to reassure the public. It’s all very well for evangelists to promote do-it-yourself accreditation from the personal safety of CVs replete with reputable qualifications, but ordinary people want the ‘beef’ of proper recognition too.”

The OERu launch at Thompson Rivers University coincided with the second meeting of the OERu open network of partners including post-secondary institutions, nonprofits, government, and international agencies who all engaged in an intensive two-day implementation planning meeting. I was delighted to attend and contribute to the planning, including a summary of a two-week-long discussion exploring OERu’s unique differentiators, operations, micro-credentials, potential use of textbook zero, and quality assurance processes. Livestream recordings of the OERu launch and plenary meetings are available from the Thompson Rivers University live streaming channel.

At the time of launch, the OERu is offering two credentials – one undergraduate and one post-graduate and is experimenting with micro Open Online Courses – mOOCs. As an open network the OERu is expanding the courses and credentials it is offering and its partners. Organizations choose to join the OERu for three main reasons:

  1. to be part of a global network of “like-minded” institutions
  2. to participate in the philanthropic mission of widening access to more affordable education, especially for learners excluded from the formal higher education sector
  3. to learn new business models and retain a competitive advantage as open education approaches become more mainstream

As Estrella Patrick Moller First Nations Elder for the Secwepemc Nation put it in her OERu launch blessing, “I thank all of you for having big dreams… Help us to reach hundreds and hundreds and millions of people so that mother earth will be covered with people on an equal footing with education.”

Related links:

2 Comments »


Page 2 of 212